Crimes of the Art is a weekly survey of artless criminals’ cultural misdeeds. Crimes are rated on a highly subjective scale from one “Scream” emoji — the equivalent of a vandal tagging the exterior of a local history museum in a remote part of the US — to five “Scream” emojis — the equivalent of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist.
Brainless Thief Steals Medical Museum’s Brains
David Charles, 23, of Indianapolis, has pleaded guilty to repeatedly breaking into the Indiana Medical History Museum and stealing jars of brain matter and other human tissues. Investigators recovered 80 jars of human tissue from Charles.
Verdict: Eighty jars!? Jeez, leave some vintage brains for the rest of us.
Suicidal Ohio State Security Guard Attacks Art
As yet unidentified artworks featured in the exhibition After Picasso: 80 Contemporary Artists at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University were damaged when a former campus security officer entered the museum with a gun, vandalized several pieces, and then killed himself. Though the museum will reopen tomorrow, the exhibition will remain closed through the end of its scheduled run (December 27).
Verdict: This is just very, very sad.
Jewish Dealer’s Grandson Sues for Modigliani
The grandson of Jewish art dealer Oscar Stettiner, Philippe Maestracci, is suing New York’s Helly Nahmad Gallery for the return of Amedeo Modigliani’s “Seated Man With a Cane” (1918), a painting that was allegedly stolen by the Nazis and was recently valued at over $25 million. The case was filed with the New York State Supreme Court, which previously ruled that Maestracci, a resident of France, did not have sufficient standing in the US to make his claim here. The latest suit was filed by the US-based administrator of Stettiner’s estate.
Verdict: It’s just like Biggie said: “Modiglianis, mo’ problems.”
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.